Jonathan Edwards Denise Maccaferri Photography

I have been a fan of this man ever since his self-titled debut album arrived from Capricorn Records back in 1971 (a couple of years after I began my music journalism gig) … there was a freshness and freedom present there that captured my interest at that time and it is still present in his newest album, “Right Where I Am,” which came out in June of 2021, it is also the first album since that debut effort to feature all self-written songs in those 50 years. Over time, he’s become a go-to interviewee: for example, since 2015 he and I have chatted four times, so when I discovered that he was to be making an appearance in Madison at the Somerset Abbey on July 29th (the day after his 76th birthday, no less) it made all kinds of sense to arrange for interview number five.

Q: To begin with, this new CD of yours is, I believe, the best album you’ve released so far.
Edwards: Oh, that’s great — that’s good to hear, I appreciate that.

Q: And the song, “50 Years” really got to me — I don’t know why but it was very moving.
Edwards: Well, jeez, I better put that back in the show!

Q: (Chuckle) And while we’re on the topic of the songs, is “Stingray Shuffle” a true story?
Edwards: Ahh, yeah … it certainly is, yup.

Q: Oh, God! As I was listening to it, I was hoping that it was made up.
Edwards: No, I do tend to make things up but, nope, that was a true story.

Q: Ouch! Now, there’s so much happening nowadays in politics, worldly chaos and global issues, not to mention pandemic-related problems, I have to ask: How are things going for you, sir?
Edwards: In the light of all-of-the-above mentioned things, real good — I’m happy and I’m healthy and I’m doing good work on-stage, and I’m doing good work behind the scenes, and I feel good.

Advertisement

Q: It must feel even better being back on the road in front of people again.
Edwards: It does and the people reciprocate that enjoyment, ya know?

Q: Yeah, I do. And harping back to that “50 Years” song, which is autobiographical, too, right?
Edwards: Yes, indeed.

Q: And it’s a love letter to your fans.
Edwards: Yeah, right, and a letter of appreciation and thanks.

Q: Just out of curiosity, have you ever performed up at the Somerset Abbey in Madison before?
Edwards: Not that I recall.

Q: Well, you’re in for a treat, that’s for sure.
Edwards: (Chuckle) Yeah, good, that’s what I hear.

Q: Now, what can folks expect from your show there?
Edwards: People will expect to hear songs from the first album, especially “Sunshine,” “Shanty,” “Emma,” songs like that, and I honor that album, it has a lot of special sauce on it as well as a lot of unique, sort of naïve grooves and songs and everything else. And when you do your first album you get to do all the songs that you’ve ever written in your life, you get to choose from all of those songs, but when you do your second album, you get to choose from the ones you’ve written since your first album (chuckle). Now I’ve got 18 albums to my name and some of them are heavily weighted with my own songs, especially the new one which is all my own songs for a change. But they’ll be hearing songs that excite audiences and that cause people to think and cause people to have fun and cause people to laugh. And I’ll be doing the usual, Heinz-57 variety of tunes that occur to me sometimes on the way to the show, I like to keep it spontaneous.

Advertisement

Q: So that would lend itself to a solo performance, correct?
Edwards: Exactly! Right, I don’t have to worry if the band knows the song or not, I can just go into it and take it where it’s going to go, ya know?

Q: Yeah, and the audience’s reaction can be influential in that style of presentation.
Edwards: (Laughter) Oh, yeah, they tell me where to go.

Q: Are you doing a lot of touring nowadays?
Edwards: This is the first full season of shows I’ve done in a couple of years, and I’m working pretty hard this summer and into the fall, and in the winter I don’t like to travel much, I hibernate like a big, old bear (laughter).

Q: Seeing this album was born during the pandemic when you had more time to write and record, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re not working on a new project right now.
Edwards: I’m not really yet, I’m kind of taking a little break from finishing songs (chuckle). I’ve got tons of great starts and great formats for songs but I just am concentrating on doing these live shows and giving that my full attention.

Q: That makes all the sense in the world, especially since you’ve been deprived of that for two years.
Edwards: Exactly, and this is the first time I’ve really toured extensively as a solo so it’s especially challenging.

Q: But rewarding at the same time?
Edwards: Yeah.

Q: Jonathan, is there anything that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Edwards: Umm, just how grateful and joyful I am to have the opportunity to get out in front of people and feel the love and give it back, that’s as simple as I can put it. And I appreciate you helping us get the word out: live acoustic music, man, is a rare commodity these days! (www.jonathanedwards.net)

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

filed under: